Is Overthinking Getting in the Way of Your Business?
[toc]Many self-help and business gurus emphasized the power of positive thinking to manifest what you want in life, visualize your ideal outcome, and so it shall be; you think you are successful, therefore you are. By that logic, you should visualize an endpoint where you achieve your dreams and then dwell on that vision until the Gods of Entrepreneurial success smile down on you and rain money.
The flip side of that coin is the conventional advice that a business needs a well-thought out plan, wrought in excruciating detail, the lays out a road map to success in milestones and concrete goals that you will undoubtedly reach, as long as you stick to the plan. Keeping your eye on the prize is good advice, but be aware that the road to winning it isn’t always a straight one.
While positivity and thinking are critical to planning, too much of either will turn into inaction and halt the growth of your business. Over-thinking, like over-planning, leads you into a state of inertia and ultimately gets in the way of doing business. The key to a successful business start-up and follow-through is in finding the right balance between thinking and doing.
Planning vs Procrastination
“The best laid plans of mice and men often go astray.” – Unknown
This quote underscores the fact that in spite of our best intentions, life often throws us curves and survival depends on being flexible enough to react to outside forces as they happen.
A business plan is more of a blueprint than a step-by-step guide to success that must be rigidly followed in order to work. While a solid business plan is essential, it shouldn’t be set in cement; over-planning leads to over-thinking, and both lead to stagnation. When you’re stuck in a planning, thinking mode, you’re not actually doing anything. It’s a form of procrastination, and often it’s rooted in fear.
Goal-setting is part of business planning, and it’s a great starting point. It’s necessary to know where you’re going in order to arrive at your destination. It’s when you get bogged down in the planning process, when you start to over-analyse every aspect of your business and every decision that you begin to fail.
A business plan should be a living, evolving guide to the direction you want your business to take. Like a high-diver, you must think about the execution of the maneuver and see yourself performing successfully in order to get into the right frame of mind. Eventually, however, you’re going to actually have to run to end of the board and dive in.
Balance is the Real Key to Success
Like most things in life, from eating to exercise, moderation and balance are essential to health. There really is a yin and a yang to everything, and there are steps you can take to avoid the over-thinking trap and learn flexibility.
1. Learn to follow your instincts.
The most successful entrepreneurs didn’t follow some rule-book to success; there is no such book. Those who are the business icons of yesterday and today are the ones who took chances, who relied on and trusted their instincts and went with them, often against conventional wisdom.
2. Learn to value negativity as much as you rely on positivity.
Negativity shouldn’t be confused with fear of taking action. It’s the part of our intuition that tells us we’re about to make a wrong turn. Learn to use it productively without dwelling on it. Ask yourself, briefly, why you feel negative about something, and if it’s a tangible and valid reaction, act accordingly and move on. Focusing on the negative feeds over-thinking, and that’s what you need to avoid.
3. Learn to Step Back.
When you’re too close to a situation, when you over-think it, you lose objectivity. Lack of objectivity will affect your ability to see things clearly and make good choices. It can even keep you from acting at all.
It’s necessary for your mental health, and the health of your business, to take a step back once in a while and look at the whole picture through fresh eyes. This is especially important when you feel stuck for a solution. Take a break and do something completely unrelated to the issue at hand. When you come back to it, chances are you’ll find yourself better able to find a creative solution.
Growing a business is an action-oriented process that’s often dictated by many external factors. New trends and technologies or shifting priorities within your business or personal life are just a few things that determine the direction a business will take. Success in business is a mysterious brew that’s made up of one part plan, one part intuition, and one part opportunity, with a dash of luck thrown into the mix.
Thinking is good, but over-thinking leads to negativity and inactivity. Even the most critical over-thinker can learn to loosen up and follow their instincts. In business, foresight, fearlessness, and the ability to adapt to changing circumstances and roll with the flow are more essential to success than all of the planning and thinking in the world.
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